Car reviews - Volkswagen - Tiguan Allspace - 162TSI Highline
Classy looks, premium cabin, unrivalled packaging, impressive digital technologies, spritely performance, comfortable urban ride, surprising body control
Room for improvement
Highway wind noise, stereotypical dual-clutch niggles, prevalent understeer, over-sensitive adaptive cruise control, invasive lane-keep and steering assist
Volkswagen’s Tiguan Allspace shows how to turn a mid-size SUV into a seven-seater
18 Feb 2019
VOLKSWAGEN has been on the outside looking in when it comes to seven-seat SUVs for some time – but not anymore.
No, this isn’t the large German crossover you’ve been lusting for. Instead, Volkswagen has followed the industry trend and added a third row to its established Tiguan mid-sizer.
With a stretched wheelbase and rear overhang contributing the additional length required to accommodate two extra seats, the aptly named Tiguan Allspace has more, well, space.
To see if the Tiguan Allspace is just another mid-size SUV pretending to be a seven-seater, we’ve put its 162TSI Highline flagship grade to the test.
Price and equipment
Thanks to its revised MY19 pricing, the 162TSI Highline is $1340 more affordable, at $51,650 plus on-road costs. This means the seven-seater now commands a $1500 premium over its similarly readjusted five-seat counterpart, as opposed to its original $4000 price difference.
Standard equipment includes a space-saver spare wheel, adaptive LED headlights with dusk-sensing functionality, LED daytime running lights, foglights and tail-lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, auto-folding side mirrors with heating and silver caps, roof rails, rear privacy glass, a power-operated tailgate and adaptive dampers.
Our test car is fitted with two option packages, including the $2900 the R-Line Package that adds 20-inch Suzuka alloy wheels wrapped in 255/40 tyres, a sports bodykit, a black rear spoiler, variable-ratio steering, illuminated stainless-steel scuff plates, a flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle-shifters, front sports seats, stainless-steel pedals, a black roofliner, Black Lead Grey trim and Crystal Grey stitching.
The only options not added to our test car are a panoramic sunroof ($2000) and metallic or pearl-effect paintwork ($700), with it instead finished in the only no-cost solid hue available, Polar White. As such, the price as tested is $57,550.
While they may look the same on the outside, thanks to their shared classy looks, the Tiguan Allspace is noticeably different to its five-seat sibling on the inside.
The former is 215mm longer than the latter, at 4704mm, owing to its 106mm-longer rear overhang and 109mm-longer wheelbase (2790mm) that accommodate its added two-seat third row.
Where most mid-size SUVs fail to adequately accommodate seven seats, the Tiguan Allspace exceeds due to its clever packaging that is likely influenced by the mechanically related and highly acclaimed Skoda Kodiaq.
In five-seat configuration, room for heads, legs and toes in the second row is generous, while occupants are also treated to a pair of fold-out tables with attached cupholders that are mounted to the back of the supportive front sports seats.
Alternatively, calling upon the third row is as easy as pulling a couple of loops from the boot, while the manually sliding middle bench seat ensures easier ingress and egress as well as adjustable legroom for rear occupants. The former is also helped by the wider doors.
In fact, the third row is serviceable for adults on shorter journeys, with only a minor degree in contortionism required when second-row legroom is maximised.
If the middle bench seat is pushed as far forward as possible, all rear occupants are afforded some legroom, even if it is limited.
The third-row seats are still best described as child friendly, though, with headroom for adults almost non-existent due to the Tiguan Allspace’s unsurprising lack of a folding roof.
However, a massive 1775L is available with the 40/20/40 split-fold second row also folded flat – and that’s excluding the neat underfloor storage area that accommodates the parcel shelf.
Anyone familiar with the Tiguan will otherwise not be shocked by its big brother’s cabin, with Volkswagen’s typical blend of premium materials creating a suitably European ambience.
The soft-touch dashboard and front upper door shoulders are complemented by hard plastics elsewhere that don’t feel or look cheap, although the Vienna leather-appointed upholstery does look suitably fake.
Technology-wise, Volkswagen continues to execute better than any of its mainstream rivals, with the 162TSI Highline’s 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment and – in particular – 12.3-inch digital instrument leading from the front with their usability, integration and looks.
Our only genuine complaint is how easily the wind noise generated over the side mirrors penetrates the cabin at highway speeds. You literally have to turn up the excellent Dynaudio sound system’s volume to drown it out.
Engine and transmission
The 162TSI Highline is motivated by Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre EA888 turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine – and that can only mean good things.
In this state of tune, it produces 162kW of power from 4300 to 6200rpm and 350Nm from 1600 to 4200rpm – yes, these are the same outputs as the pre-facelift seventh-generation Golf GTI!
If you’re expectations are high now, then you won’t be disappointed as the 1769kg 162TSI Highline sprints from standstill to 100km/h in a claimed 6.8 seconds – a time worthy of a hot hatch.
In reality, performance is spritely, with the 162TSI Highline leaping off the line with vigour as its thick band of maximum torque almost immediately kicks in, holding on through the mid-range, at which point peak power arrives and hurtles the engine towards its redline.
Volkswagen’s equally familiar seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission is responsible for harnessing this performance alongside its variable 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.
It’s no surprise then that the stereotypical dual-clutch niggles are present, including the clunky first gear change off the line and the jerkiness experienced when downshifting to second while coasting into low speeds or a standstill.
In this particular calibration, the transmission hunts for gears, stubbornly keeping cruising engine speeds barely above idle.
Ultimately, this means that throttle response is limited as revs are slowly built towards the engine’s meaty mid-range. Don’t expect it to often kick down a gear or two.
However, this behaviour can be counteracted by putting the seven-speeder into its sport mode that is more receptive to spontaneous throttle inputs and moves the shift patterns to higher engine speeds, guaranteeing that pleasing performance is always on hand.
Better yet, use the steering wheel’s paddle-shifters to engage manual mode and put matters into your own hands – this is when the 162TSI Highline is at its responsive best.
Claimed fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions on the combined cycle test are 8.3 litres per 100 kilometres and 191 grams per kilometre respectively.
During our week with the 162TSI Highline, we are averaging 10.5L/100km over 330km of mixed driving. A heavy right foot has inevitably inflated this result.
Ride and handling
Given it rides on Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous – there’s that word again – MQB platform, the Tiguan Allspace’s independent suspension set-up predictably consists of MacPherson-strut front and multi-link rear axles.
As mentioned, the 162 Highline adds adaptive dampers that can be set to either Comfort or Sport modes, with the former proving to be the better option in nearly all scenarios.
Urban ride comfort is excellent, with the Tiguan Allspace feeling like a dream over high-quality tarmac, and it even deals with uneven and unsealed surfaces with aplomb.
Throw a deep pot hole or a large speed bump in the way and occupants don’t need to brace too heavily for impact as the crunch is muted, even if it’s not completely ironed out.
The difference between Comfort and Sport is obvious, with the road’s imperfections instead noticeably felt with the latter engaged … so it just makes you wonder why Volkswagen bothered offering a firmer setting in the first place.
The Tiguan Allspace’s power steering is speed-sensitive, while the aforementioned R-Line Package gives it a variable ratio.
Three modes – Comfort, Normal and Sport – progressively increase this system’s weight. In any event, it is well-balanced, but we prefer the ‘most aggressive’ setting due to its added meatiness.
The steering’s overall feel is quite decent for an electrically assisted set-up, with the driver abreast of the front wheels’ whereabouts at most times.
However, the steering is uncharacteristically slow at low speed, gradually becoming even slower before it stabilises at higher velocities. This makes every-day manoeuvres that little bit more challenging.
This – alongside the extended wheelbase – goes some way in explaining the Tiguan Allspace’s prevalent understeer that often sees it run wide of its line when cornering. As such, steering inputs needs to be managed well through tighter turns.
As far as handling is otherwise concerned, body control is surprisingly good, with lean kept to a minimum – for an SUV – when attacking the twisty stuff.
Safety and servicing
The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) is yet to crash test the Tiguan Allspace, but it did award its five-seat counterpart a five-star safety rating in October 2016.
Advanced driver-assist safety technologies in the 162TSI Highline extend to low-speed autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a manual speed limiter, driver attention warning, multi-collision and manoeuvre braking, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring … and the list goes on.
Lane-keep and steering assist are also included but serve as a point of frustration, constantly making minor adjustments when the vehicle is already centred in its lane.
To make matters worse, when changing lanes with the indicator on and another vehicle in a blind spot, opposite lock is applied to prevent the lane change.
In most situations, the distance between vehicles is great enough that this shouldn’t be an issue, although we understand its usefulness in scenarios where an accident is actually likely.
Similarly, the adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality is plain annoying due to its over-sensitivity to vehicles in surrounding lanes.
Yes, it works as advertised when it comes to vehicles ahead sharing the same lane, but if the path forward is clear, it will intermittently sense an adjacent vehicle and apply the brakes. Why?
Other standard safety equipment includes seven airbags (dual front, side and curtain plus driver’s knee), anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), brake assist, traction control system (TCS) and electronic stability control (ESC).
As with all Volkswagen models sold from January 1, 2019, the Tiguan Allspace comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and one year of roadside assistance as standard.
Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Capped-price servicing is available for the first three or five visits, with pricing starting from $1351 and $2322 respectively.
As far as seven-seat mid-size SUVs go, the Tiguan Allspace is genuinely without peer thanks to its brilliant mix of practicality and performance, particularly in 162TSI Highline form.
However, as with any model, it’s not without its flaws, but those negatives are well and truly outweighed by the positives.
In fact, you could almost suggest it offers good value for money – something you’d never expect to be say about a Volkswagen model.
It’s still up for debate as to whether or not mid-size SUVs can effectively function as seven-seaters, but the Tiguan Allspace undoubtedly puts forth the strongest case yet.
Nissan X-Trail ST-L FWD seven-seat (from $38,700 plus on-road costs)
The X-Trail provides stable and secure handling, but with all seven seats in play, it is very much compromised.
Honda CR-V VTi-L FWD seven-seat (from $38,990 plus on-road costs)
The CR-V has a peppy engine and is comfortable and quiet inside, but luggage space behind its third row is lacking.
Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed AWD seven-seat petrol (from $42,290 plus on-road costs)
The Outlander is a strong cargo carrier, but its vague steering, crashy ride and uninspiring performance let it down.
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Model release date: 1 August 2018
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